3 May 2002 IBM has said that it wants rival Sun Microsystems to join the board of the Web Services Interoperability Organisation (WS-I). The organisation is an three month old industry consortium that aims to promote web services by encouraging compatibility between software from multiple vendors.
IBM and Microsoft are both co-founders of the WS-I, and in the past Sun has been angered by their refusal to allow Sun to join as an equal partner. The spat fuelled fears of a standards carve-up over web services by IBM and Microsoft.
In February 2002, Sun was invited to join the WS-I as a “contributing” member, but refused the invitation. Instead, Sun said it deserved “founding member status”, which would allow it to help set the group’s agenda.
Earlier this year the nine member board of the WS-I met to discuss whether Sun should be admitted as a founding board member. While most of the board supported the motion, some, including IBM and Microsoft, vetoed the proposal.
However, IBM has now submitted a proposal arguing that Sun should be given a higher status in the consortium. The company has proposed that the WS-I add two seats to its board and many companies besides Sun are lobbying to join the board.
These include Cisco Systems, Ariba, Iona Technologies, Novell, KPMG, Reuters, Tibco and WebMethods. However, Sun has been the most insistent and its Java technology is expected to form a key part of the ‘web services industry’.
IBM’s proposal needs to be approved by all of the WS-I’s current board members, which include Hewlett-Packard, BEA Systems, Intel and Oracle. If the proposal is approved, the 100 members of the WS-I will vote to decide which two companies should join the board. IBM proposes that the two companies be given two year terms to allow others the chance of being on the board in the future. The other board members are permanent members because they founded the WS-I.